Saturday, June 28, 2008

Round Robin: What is a Weed?

Edited for even more typos than usual, Saturday 5 PM. Blame my cold.

Welcome to my somewhat pedantic entry for this week's Round Robin Photo Challenge. The topic Weeds Can Be Beautiful Too! was suggested by Kim of the blog Nekked Lizard Adventures. Good topic - I've spent much of this evening musing about what a weed actually is, and whether I have any appropriate photos to show you.

Although I usually brainstorm and do these Challenges at more or less the last minute (more fun that way!), I've been at a slight disadvantage getting ready for this one, on a couple of counts. For one thing, I haven't been driving much the last few weeks since John's been dropping me off at my temp job; that means much less wandering and exploring than usual. I could have gone out this evening looking for weeds, and in fact I did; but I have a miserable cold right now, which kind of limited my ambition in this area. And third and finally, I live in a desert; more specifically in a city in the desert, after a dry winter and before the rains start in earnest. Really, there aren't too many beautiful weeds out there right now.

Still, I have a few new shots to illustrate my thoughts on the subject, and a few archive photos I haven't used before, as far as I know.

So what is a weed? Is it any uncultivated plant, or just one that grows where it's not wanted? Can a cultivated plant become a weed if it gets out of hand? Exhibit A:

Here's a piece of our firecracker bush sneaking toward the alcove by our front door. John put in the original hummingbird-attracting plant over a decade ago, and it keeps growing and spreading out. Here's some more of it in the alcove by one of the Tikis:

John's trimmed it back at least once, but I think it would kind of look splendid there were it not for the fact that the shade and the lack of water aren't ideal growing conditions for it. You see? Dead leaves.

So what about wildflowers in the desert? Are they weeds, or are they supposed to be there, and therefore not weeds? Can a cactus be a weed? How about a flowering shrub, growing just a few feet from natural desert?

The plant at the top of this entry turned up near the Interesting Manufacturer building. In fact, I think it was on or near the site of the building that burned down a few years ago. The gravel looks like it's there on purpose, which I suppose makes this a weed. It's not all that impressive, but at least it has little pale flowers.

None of these shots really do it for me, so let's go to the archives!

This is one of several similar shots I took with the Canon back in April 2005. I don't think the flowers were planted by John, and they aren't in the back yard any more. It was nice of Tuffy to pose with them, wasn't it? (John tells me the flowers were lantana, which he worked hard to get rid of because they tend to take over everything.)

This was one of my first shots with that camera, in March 2005, at Gates Pass. Between the earlier generation of camera and my inexperience with it, it's not a very clear or crisp photo, but you can see wildflowers and grasses and saguaros. The saguaros are very much supposed to be there, but do any of the flowers or grasses in this stretch of desert park qualify as weeds? Possibly. It's probably not as big a problem here as it is in Florida, but botanists and officials are becoming concerned about the proliferation of non-native plants in the Arizona desert. Bermuda grass, Fountain grass and most especially Buffelgrass grow wild along roadsides, in yards and in empty lots, as well as in relatively pristine desert. Buffelgrass can choke out the native cactus and shrubs, and catches fire easily, leading to devastation. One of the recent controlled burns around here was to try to reduce the buffelgrass before it causes a problem in that particular area. As I recall, even the controlled burn got a little out of hand. Another method of getting rid of the stuff is to invite concerned nature lovers to buffelgrass eradication parties. I'm not making this up!

Here's a patch of rather odd-looking grass in our front yard. Is it buffelgrass? I have no idea.

Now let's see how everyone else did in their challenge to find pretty weeds!

Linking List

Nekked Lizards

Carly - POSTED!

Keyhole Pictures

Karen - POSTED!
Outpost Mâvarin

Wammy - POSTED!
The Ellis Family Cincinnati

Jennifer Robin - POSTED!
Robin's Woods

Jama Hameed - POSTED!
Sweet Memories

Robinella - POSTED!

Olive - POSTED!
Ur Olive

Gina - POSTED!
Gina's Space

Kiva - POSTED!
The Eclectic Granny

Mary - POSTED!
Answers to the Questions

Monica - POSTED!
A Family Affair Photography

Vicki - POSTED!

Julie - POSTED!
Julie's Web Journal

Molly - POSTED!
Return Of The White Robin

Teena - POSTED!
It's All About Me!

Steven - POSTED!


Molly said...

You have some great pictures. You have mentioned non-proliferation of non-native species. Here in Indiana, we have trouble with Queen Anne's Lace, Garlic Mustard, and Purple Loosestrife. Although weeds are aliens, they can be beautiful.

Although a little late, I have joined this challenge.

Carly said...

Sorry you aren't feeling well, feel better soon. :) Tuffy always makes me smile, she has a very expressive face and in the photo you posted, she gives the whole photo a nice balance. Give her a scratch and say hello from me.

Teena in Toronto said...

Weeds are tough, aren't they? They can grow anywhere!

I played too :)

the teach said...

Hope you're over your cold Karen. Your weeds are lovely! I describe weeds as uncultivated plants... how's that! Any plant the nature lets grown without a human hand involved. Wildflowers would be weeds too, I think. :)

Nekked Lizard Lady said...

It seems like we need to get to Arizona, as your cactus and flowers look prettier than ours up here in Colorado. Tuffy is so huggable looking!

Wammy said...

Your weeds surea are a lot different thatn ours. The climate there is so different also. I love all your shots. Very interesting. Also the stories. Thank you for a few calm minutes is this house of choas...our grandkids are here and they are napping. Life is good!

Kiva said...

I hope you didn't catch your cold from me digitally. It's nasty. I'm glad you got out to take some pictures. The Tuffy and the weed pix is adorable.
When I think of Arizona, I think of the tumbleweeds that blow across the road.

Anonymous said...

Deciding what is a weed and what is not IS a challenge.

Great photos and contemplation!

Anonymous said...

It looks like you have weeds growing everywhere and beautiful ones to boot. You have some nice photos of weeds.

barrettmanor said...

I wonder if a firecracker bush would grow here? I'm on the lookout for plants that I can actually put in the ground that would survive the type of weather we have in these parts.

Almost anything I plant in the ground dies, which explains why I container garden. It also explains why I have so many weeds. ;-)

MyMaracas said...

Sweet little Tuffy...

I guess weediness is in the eye of the beholder. Wish I could see those cacti up close. I had no idea so many would be so close together like that.

Hope you feel better soon!

gina said...

i like your weed display...especially the cactus shots. hope you are feeling better soon! :)

Family Affair Photography said...

Okay, I'll admit my favorite photo is the one with Tuffy posing next to the weed flowers. :-) I think Tuffy needs attention! (don't they all?)

Hope you are feeling better soon!